Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of May 18
Posted on May 21, 2020
The MHA has continued to keep members apprised of developments during the COVID-19 pandemic through regular email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates on how the pandemic is affecting Michigan hospitals are outlined below.
Executive Order 2020-17 Rescinded, Other Restrictions Eased
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced May 21 that she is rescinding Executive Order (EO) 2020-17 effective May 29. This EO was issued in March and banned “nonessential” medical procedures in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and dentists’ offices. The MHA issued a media statement in support of her action and will continue to run statewide television and social media ads urging people not to delay care and assuring that hospitals are safe places to receive services.
The governor also announced during a May 21 news conference that auto dealerships, retailers and veterinarians can open to the public, by appointment only, effective May 29, and that, effective immediately, groups of 10 or fewer people may gather outside of their homes. Whitmer announced May 18 that the Upper Peninsula (Region 8) and 17 counties in northern lower Michigan (Region 6) will be permitted to partially reopen their economies May 22, in accordance with the “Safe Start” recommendations developed by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.
Liability Protections for Healthcare Workers, Facilities
The MHA testified May 19 via videoconference before the state House Judiciary Committee to advocate for Senate Bill (SB) 899, which offers strong and broad liability protections for healthcare workers and facilities treating COVID-19 patients. The MHA and members have identified this as an important element to operating within pandemic and emergency situations. A variety of other healthcare groups submitted cards of support for the bill, including the Michigan State Medical Society and the Healthcare Association of Michigan, which represents long-term care facilities.
SB 899 originally passed the Senate May 7. The MHA will continue to work with members of the House of Representatives as the legislation progresses to support healthcare personnel responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
Laboratories and Testing
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced May 18 that the Laboratory Emergency Response Network (MiCLERN) hotline will be taken offline at 5 p.m. ET May 22. The announcement stated that this is due to “recent changes to COVID-19 prioritization criteria and stabilized testing capacity that no longer requires prior issuance of Person Under Investigation (PUI) identifiers for MDHHS Bureau of Laboratory (BOL) testing of COVID-19 specimens.” The state clarified that COVID-19 specimens that are sent to the state laboratory no longer require a PUI form, but should still include the State of Michigan Test Requisition form (DCH-0583) and two unique identifiers.
Hospitals in need of swabs and transport media for testing are reminded to report their needs to the BOL by sending an email to MDHHSLab@michigan.gov using the subject line “EM COVID-19 Supplies,” per recent guidance shared with members in the May 6 email update. Members with questions should contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.
MVC Offers Resources for Resuming Non-COVID Procedures
The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) represents a partnership among 87 Michigan hospitals and 40 physician organizations that aims to improve the health of Michigan through sustainable high-value healthcare. Supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the MVC helps its members better understand their performance using robust multipayer data, customized analytics and at-the-elbow support.
To assist hospital systems with prioritizing the restart of surgical services with the least impact on caring for remaining COVID-19 patients, the MVC has designed reports that display resource utilization metrics at a statewide and member hospital level for 17 elective surgical procedures. More information is available by contacting the MHA Keystone Center.
Pharmacy Refill Order Extended
The governor signed EO 2020-93 May 19, extending a previous order giving pharmacists increased operational capacity. It also expands access to prescriptions for patients. The order allows pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of prescriptions for up to a 60-day supply and requires insurers to cover early refills for up to a 90-day supply during the pandemic. It also allows pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 treatments according to government-approved protocols. EO 2020-93 took immediate effect and will expire at 11:59 p.m. June 16, 2020. Members with questions may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.
EMResource Now Tracking Psychiatric Facility Data
The state of Michigan recently launched a new module in EMResource targeted toward freestanding psychiatric facilities. The data collected in this new module requests data on beds, COVID-19 patients, staffing and personal protective equipment availability. Psychiatric facilities are required to report this information weekly by 11:59 p.m. ET every Friday. The MHA is seeking clarification from the state on whether this data will also be posted to its COVID-19 data website alongside existing health system/hospital data on related measures, or on any other public website. Members with questions may contact Jim Lee at the MHA.
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children
A Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity webinar on the clinical characteristics of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 is now available online. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) hosted the webinar May 19. The MDHHS reported that, since April 1, there have been 28 identified cases in Michigan, and treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin and steroids is proving to be effective. The CDC issued a Health Advisory May 14 and recommends healthcare providers report any patient who meets the case definition to local and state health departments to enhance knowledge of risk factors, clinical course, and treatment of this syndrome.
Healthcare Workers Still Permitted to Cross Closed Canadian Borders
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security May 19 reissued its order closing the United States – Canadian ground border through 11:59 p.m. ET June 22. Healthcare workers will continue to be permitted to cross to report to work.
Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. If staff members at MHA-member facilities are not receiving necessary information from the MHA, they are asked to check the spam/junk mail folders in their email systems or ask their information technology departments to ensure MHA messages are not being blocked.
Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members:
Posted in: Issues in Healthcare, Member News, Top Issues - Healthcare